We as humans, the same as any other animal are wired to seek out comfort. Why? Comfort was rare in nature, it was uncertain when the next meal would come, or whether we would survive if we stayed outside our shelters for a night. In modern society we enjoy comfort in excess, simply because it is comfortable.
How much comfort is enough?
Seeking comfort is a survival instinct that is generated from the Hindbrain (Reptile brain). Seeking out comfort aided our survival in nature; however in modern society where everything is abundant and readily available it is not ideal to have this part of your brain ruling your life.
Food was rare in nature, particularly salt and sugar, however today both are abundant in the majority of products being sold at supermarkets. Some tribesman would occasionally indulge in honey, but aside that sweet foods were extremely rare. From an evolutionary standpoint this has trained our brains to crave sugar (and salt) as they were hard to come by. Today obesity rates are insane because many of us are unable to combat our comfort seeking brains, our sweet tooth.
The problem now is we never know when enough comfort is indeed enough! We want more food, bigger houses, heating on when it’s not cold. We actively avoid any form of discomfort which makes us weak and lazy. Such is the comfort paradox; more comfort leads us to wanting even more comfort. The previous standard of comfort is no longer enough. Problems arise when an uncomfortable situation is forced upon us and we are not prepared, making it extremely uncomfortable.
Non-acceptance of Discomfort
Tribesman lived what most of us would consider really uncomfortable lives, lives of survival and uncertainty. However to them their lives were not uncomfortable. They may have had to skip meals on occasion, or move on a daily basis to find and catch their food. They accepted it, embraced it, and the rewards were freedom and serenity.
“Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness’ and only to him was it ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.”
Luther Standing Bear (Native American Chief)
By accepting a certain level of discomfort in our lives we rise above it. It no longer becomes discomfort, simply a part of life. This does not mean we cannot enjoy comforts, only it is best not to be afraid of a little discomfort. This is an essential step in Rewilding Humans.
Accepting discomfort is also embraced by many of the Eastern monks. They live simple, un-materialistic, disciplined lives which could be considered a life devoid of luxury and pleasure. Who wants to wake up before sunrise every day, beg for small portions of food, and spend a large part of the day meditating?
“Life is suffering”
The monk however does not see his life as suffering; he embraces it, and therefore transcends it. Suffering or discomfort only becomes so when you refuse to accept the situation. We need to learn to accept the pleasure-pain polarity, or the Yin and Yang duality as part of life.
A strange thing happens when you stop seeking comfort and attempting to avoid discomfort, you begin to find pleasure in life’s little things. Forget the societal madness of continually seeking comfort. Rewild Yourself, enjoy comfort when it is present but accept it when it is not, do not continually seek it.
By embracing discomfort we become stronger and more immune to it. In short it allows us to live with more freedom and serenity. We are not afraid of a little discomfort, instead we embrace it.
Venture out of your comfort Zone
By pushing the boundaries of our comfort zones we become stronger and live more fulfilling lives. Try something new, make a change in your life, do something you are afraid of. I am not saying go and swim with sharks, this could be as simple as going to talk to the opposite sex, quitting your corporate job, or journeying solo for a change.
Next time it rains on you don’t cower and hunch like you have never seen rain. Embrace the discomfort; you have a dry, warm house waiting for you. At the first sign of cold, instead of turning on the heating and warming the whole house, why not try throwing on an extra jumper? Say “NO” to that donut! Get up and Train!
Most of our discomfort in modern society isn’t really true discomfort, and in any case it is usually over quickly so best to enjoy the experience. Learn to enjoy comfort in discomfort!